You know you want it: a Mercedes Benz off-roading machine with a twin-turbo V8 engine sending 422 horsepower to all four wheels. This boxy SUV is lifted high off the ground with portal axles to ensure that you are riding high and in style. This is the Mercedes Benz G500 4×4², which is part of Mercedes’ G-Class stable. The G500 is one of a new group of SUVs that may migrate to the U.S.
The G-Class is anchored by Geländewagen, a beastly off-road vehicle that has remained virtually unchanged since the 1970s. The G-wagen is known for its ability to luxuriously climb up the side of a mountain if need be, aided by 6 wheels. Now Mercedes is considering expanding the G-Class offerings in America. According to Bart Herring, Mercedes’ general manager of product planning in the United States, the automaker plans to bring the G-Class to the US “for the long term.”
Industry watchers have already analyzed his comments and concluded that the G500 4×4² is the next logical step. The 4×4 has the same hardware as a standard G550, including that turbocharged V8. However, it rides with 22-inch wheels wrapped in 325/55-series tires. The suspension has several upgrades allowing it to handle almost any obstacle off road. The 4×4 went on sale in Europe in 2015. Mercedes promoted the G500 4×4² by noting that with its off-road reduction in the transfercase and three lockable differentials, the SUV begins its off-road adventure “where other vehicles give up.”
One look at the 4×4² will make you think this is the vehicle you could go to war with, as it sits up square and proud, ready to take all comers. The portal axles are the key to the 4×4’s world-conquering potential. With a portal axle, there is a gear in the place where the normal axle would usually connect to the wheel, giving the entire axle tube and differential to be moved up. This gives maximum clearance, with the 4×4² achieving an astonishing 17. inches of ground clearance, with a breakover angle of 47º. If the the 4×4² is compared with the Jeep Wrangler, it is no contest – the the 4×4² is two times as high as the Wrangler.
The G-Class is not the company’s top selling line, but it does fulfill the core belief in Mercedes-Benz as a hand-crafted marvel. The 2016 G-Class updates demonstrate this, as it the color palette has been updated with brighter colors (think highlighter yellow), the tweaked front fascia and interior upgrades (think heated and quilted leather) make these SUVs fit for a king. The G-Class in America also already includes the 621-horsepower AMG G65 and the G63
The G-Class has proven to be a hit in the U.S., with sales rising 15 percent in the U.S. Market in 2015, so it’s easy to see why Mercedes-Benz is considering an expansion. In Europe, the 4×4² is already on sale for €226,100, which is equivalent to a bit over $255,000 at current American exchange rate. However, it’s a safe bet that pricing could wind up being higher in America.